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The bottom line on Social Security reform

The emerging debate on Social Security privatization so far has centered on two issues: the actuarial problems with the existing system and comparative rates of return. These are important aspects, but I think it's important not to to lose sight of the true bottom line here, which is the following. Given a choice between

  1. contributing real money to a real account that I actually own, and
  2. being taxed in exchange for a promise by the government to tax, years hence, somebody else in order to pay me back

Then I'll take option 1 every time. Naturally, I'd prefer full-scale privatization, but 2% is better than zero.

Don't like it? Fine. Don't participate. I haven't seen a proposal yet for which participation wasn't voluntary, and I highly doubt such a mandatory reform bill could ever pass. But please don't stand in the way of those of us who work hard and want to take charge of our own retirement. "Pro-choice," you like to call yourselves? We'll see.